It was the Summer of 2010. A lot was at stake in the NBA — the league was overwhelmed with free agents. Big-time names like Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and LeBron James were all set to hit free agency. Despite not having any championships, LeBron James was the most spotlighted free agent by far.
We all know how the story goes, LeBron announces his decision to the public that he will be joining Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade down in South Beach. But in all reality, there is much more to it than that. In fact, Miami wasn’t even LeBron’s first choice. Reports have recently come out saying that he initially preferred to go to the Knicks. But obviously, LeBron has never worn New York’s orange and blue… so what happened to make him call it off?
The report about LeBron’s preference came from Bill Simmons’ podcast:
From everyone that I’ve talked to in the know since then, it’s clear that the Knicks were the first choice. And I’m sorry Knicks fans, earmuffs. But it was basically the Knicks’ to lose, and they just couldn’t stay out of their own way. And the stories are legendary.-Bill Simmons via “The Bill Simmons Podcast”
They had the legendary meeting. Donnie Walsh was in the wheelchair, and Dolan was Dolan. And it was just a complete – they didn’t have anything prepared. And it just couldn’t have gone worse, by all accounts. It was a disaster.-Bill Simmons via “The Bill Simmons Podcast”
This meeting has got to be one for the history books. It starts out with a young LeBron James coming in — expecting to sign with New York. Then, the Knicks leadership enters the scene completely unprepared. One could imagine them flipping through piles of papers, trying to make conversation in awkward silence, and begin to loose their patience with each other. Then to top things off after the unorganized meeting, Knicks owner James Dolan (supposedly) handed LeBron a CD of his personal blues/rock band. What does his personal band have to do with LeBron or even basketball for that matter?
The final pitch didn’t even come directly from the Knicks’ leadership either. James Dolan sought-out Isiah Thomas to talk and try to convince LeBron that New York was the place to go.
New York was hoping that they could sign LeBron James and shooting guard Joe Johnson so that they could have leverage in making a deal with Chris Bosh as well. Then, New York would have their very first superteam — to win championships to come. However, the reality of the situation was that LeBron James needed a stronger first impression and Miami stepped in at the right time — resulting in Miami creating it’s first superteam with LeBron instead.